play for serve?(rally for serve)

Table Tennis Rules

Last updated 9 years ago

Samuel Lim

Samuel Lim Asked 9 years ago

Hi Alois and Jeff..... i was wondering if they use the play(rally) for serve to start a game....... because i see the players warming up before the game starts... if not was is done to start the game?

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 9 years ago

Hi Samuel,

Before the game starts to decide who is going to serve first you can:

In most official matches the umpire will toss a coin or disc to decide who has the first choice.  Unofficially you can do a rally point to decide who gets the first choice.  You can even put the ball in one hand and hide both hands under the table and get your opponent to choose a hand.  If they choose correctly they get the first choice.

The player who wins the toss has the choice of either to serving or receiving or they can decide which end to take.  Once they have made their choice the other player can make the other choice.  So if I win the toss and decide to receive, you can then decide which end you are going to take.  Similarly, if I decide which end I want then you can choose to either serve or receive first. 


Notify me of updates
Add to Favourites
Back to Questions

Thoughts on this question

Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 9 years ago

As Alois mentions, in official matches an umpire will toss a coin or disc. If there is no umpire then the next most common method is the one Alois mentioned where you place both hands apart under the table and hide the ball in one of them. The opponent chooses a hand and if they select the one with the ball in it, they get to make the first decision.

Using a rally to decide who serves first is often used when playing at home. However once you progress to playing at a club, this method is rarely used.


Ji-Soo Woo

Ji-Soo Woo Posted 9 years ago

When playing in the NSW Country Championship I came across another way of determining the first server.  The team who is umpiring the match serves first.  This actually works out really well because whenever there is any question about who is supposed to serve during a match (as somtimes happens), it is a simple exercise to calculate because it is easy to know who served first.

Of course this only works in team competitions.


Samuel Lim

Samuel Lim Posted 9 years ago

i've joined 3 tournements already and this coming tuesday would be my fourth....in the first two tournments i've joined we used the coin toss system and the third one i joined the system of whose service it was, was very weird we had to do rock,paper, scissors... funny isn't it.


Become a free member to post a comment about this question.